Is Drew McIntyre an A+ Player?

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2020 has been a year to forget for so many reasons however it is a time which has seen Drew McIntyre victorious at the Royal Rumble, slay 'The Beast' Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania and hold the fort as a fighting WWE Champion during an unprecedented period for sports entertainment and the world.

Despite his success it seems some fans still aren't sold on Drew as 'The' guy so in this article I discuss his reign as WWE Champion and whether the Scotsman has done enough to earn a place at WWE's top table?

The champions story goes way back to the days where he was identified by Vince McMahon as a future WWE Champion, only for him to be released in 2014. He could have easily gone down the route of deflecting blame and being bitter about WWE however to his credit he made it his mission to get back to the biggest company in professional wrestling.

In 2017 his hard work paid off as he made it back to the WWE via the black and gold brand which lead to his return to the main roster a year later. It was clear for all to see that this was a new and improved Drew McIntyre as he looked to make up for lost time and become the champion that he was destined to be.

His moment finally came at this years Royal Rumble when he eliminated Brock Lesnar on his way to victory to set up a Wrestlemania showdown for the WWE Championship. This feud propelled McIntyre into the main event and huge credit to Lesnar who's performance and selling throughout made The Scottish Psychopath look like an absolute monster.

Unfortunately the pandemic hit and the show of all shows was held at the performance centre with no fans in attendance, this didn't stop Drew having his Wrestlemania moment however as he Claymored his way to victory to become the new, WWE Champion.

Despite doing everything in his power to lead WWE through these testing times there is a section of the fan base that still hold reservations on the champions ability to draw eyes and entertain at the highest level. While I would respectively disagree with those fans I have looked at Drew's time as champion to understand their reasoning and what WWE can do cement him as an A+ Player.

Underwhelming Title Challengers

Following his historical victory at Wrestlemania someone within WWE decided an impromptu challenge from The Big Show was the best way to begin his title reign. No disrespect to the WWE Legend but Drew defending against a part-time veteran did nothing to continue the momentum or build excitement for his title reign.

Next up for McIntyre was former foe and the man that beat him for the NXT Championship, Andrade. This had potential to be an exciting feud, built on their history in NXT however what we got was a one off title match on Monday Night RAW that could have been so much more.

Seth Rollins was the next superstar to target the champion and while the Monday Night Messiah is anything but underwhelming was he really deserved of a title shot? The fact he was coming off the back of defeat to Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania made it difficult to be fully invested in a feud that if built over time could have been something really special. 

After retaining against Rollins a rejuvenated Bobby Lashley under the management of MVP was the next superstar to be granted a title shot by the champ. On paper Lashley should be challenging the best WWE have to offer but until recently his booking since returning to WWE has had him no where near the world title scene. So again it is another case of someone been handed a title shot out of nowhere.

The latest challenger for the WWE Championship came from even further out of left field in the form of Dolph Ziggler. Not only was it another underutilised superstar but it was someone who made the trade from Smackdown to RAW to challenge his former tag team partner. There's no denying there is some history between Dolph and Drew however the story felt very forced and manufactured in an attempt to justify Ziggler's opportunity.

Again, I intend no disrespect towards the challengers who are all fantastic performers in their own right, it was the overall booking that made it difficult to become fully invested. In fact, Drew McIntyre's title defenses have been some of the best matches of the empty arena era and the Scotsman deserves huge credit for making the absolute most of the feuds he's been handed.

I do admire the fact that Drew is a fighting champion however it has almost become a WWE Championship open challenge without the label which in my opinion isn't what the WWE Championship should be about. I would prefer to see some carefully built, long term feuds that will still be remembered for years to come.

Tonight's match with 'The Viper' Randy Orton might just be the moment Drew has been looking for and whatever happens at Summerslam I hope this is just the start of long term, personal feud between two of the top performers in professional wrestling. 

Ratings

Ratings and viewership is not one of my favourite subjects however it carries so much importance from a business perspective that it cannot be ignored. I try to avoid getting caught up in the subject as in my opinion the ratings and viewership results do not always reflect the quality of any given show. I also dislike the fact that some identify the WWE Champion as the measuring stick when it comes to poor ratings.

Monday Night RAW in particular has struggled to maintain the viewership results posted pre-pandemic with some suggesting that the current WWE Champion is partly responsible for not drawing eyes to the product. I could not disagree more as along with the likes of Randy Orton, Bayley, Sasha and Bray Wyatt, I would put Drew on the list of top performers in WWE since Wrestlemania.

There are so many factors currently affecting viewership and despite WWE giving us Charlotte three shows, Bayley Dos Straps, Two Beltz Banks, RAW Underground and Retribution their efforts have not translated into a significant increase in viewership. I believe both RAW and Drew McIntyre should be judged on merit once some form of normality resumes.

Curse of the Babyface Champion

Prior to winning the Royal Rumble McIntyre portrayed himself predominantly as a heel, aligning himself with the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Shane McMahon.

Following the crowd reaction he received after eliminating Brock Lesnar and winning the Rumble he was now portraying a babyface in pursuit of the WWE Championship. His feud with Lesnar was fantastic and the crowd popped hard for his Claymore attacks and they rallied behind the man who was a genuine threat to The Beast.

After finishing the job at Wrestlemania and reaching the peak of his success to date, could he now be suffering the same fate that the likes of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose faced once they became WWE Champion?

The former shield members were hot commodities as title chasers with fans willing them on to become 'The' Guy in WWE. As soon as they became champion however interest from fans started to drop off with Rollins the most recent example following his controversial feud with The Fiend. It was almost like some fans had a new toy to play with and disregarded Seth's fantastic work in the months that went before.

We live in an era where its cool to be a heel and cool to be edgy however WWE need to find a way to get their babyfaces over as you cannot have a roster full of heel superstars.

In Drew McIntyre's case he may not be the most flamboyant of characters however I personally enjoy the babyface version of him which is extremely close to his true personality. I have had discussions with fans who label him boring but as a fellow Brit I appreciate his dry humour, wit and the fact he can bring maximum intensity in a spilt second.

I do understand however that this may not be to everyone's taste and I believe with a few tweaks to his character and presentation he could be widely accepted by the WWE Universe.

I am big on superstars having alternate attire from when they are wrestling as opposed to being in the ring to cut a promo. If you look back to Triple H and his leather jacket and denim combo or The Rock with his two stripe tracksuit, these are iconic, cool attires that fans remember as fans care about the detail.

The Scotman's alternate attire is a basic dress pants and shirt combo which could give the boring brigade ammunition when describing the champion. To be fair it is difficult to disagree so why not add some edge to his on screen character with a black leather jacket, t-shirt and ripped jeans for example.

While it is fantastic to see Drew McIntyre's real personality come out on screen sometimes less is more, so I would keep the humour to a minimum and ensure that his intensity stays at the surface of his character as the Scottish Psychopath.

As one of the few British wrestlers on the main roster I feel building a British faction around McIntyre could be a great way of creating a buzz and further importance around the WWE Champion. He has pretty much done it all on his own so far however if the likes of The Hurt Business and Undisputed Era play the numbers game he may not have enough to stop them. Plus top class performers such as Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne belong on the main roster and what a way to introduce them to the big league.

All things considered I believe Drew McIntyre is performing at the highest level and if he can be this impressive under pandemic restrictions I cannot wait to see what's next for him when some normality resumes.

Win lose or draw at Summerslam Drew McIntyre is an A+ Player in my book and with some fine tuning and improved booking he has the potential to cement his place on WWE's top table for years to come.

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